Dehydration and Israel Gap Year Students


Gap year students and dehydration have been a bad mix for decades.

Unfortunately, with springtime heat waves in Israel, EMA Care has been called in recently to assist gap year students experiencing serious medical conditions stemming from dehydration. Dehydration can set it quickly in otherwise healthy people when the weather gets dry or hot – but heatwaves in Israel magnify the problem with both heat and dry winds.

Student #1- Complained of serious back pain urinary tract infection symptoms. She believed her back pain was due to tossing and turning all night. Her urine test showed that she was severely dehydrated but had no infection… and the dehydration was starting to affect her kidneys and bladder. She started drinking water “all the time,” but careful analysis showed that she was drinking 1.5 liters of water daily, even after being outdoors regularly.

Student #2 – Students had a recent weekend “Shabbaton” with their gap year school. Most of the activities were indoors because of the heat but required walking outdoors from building to building. Several students reported dizziness and headaches as well as fatigue. One student was convinced he had mononucleosis from exhaustion. At the Shabbaton, drinks were available at meals only. Five students were diagnosed with dehydration, and symptoms resolved once they rehydrated properly.

Hot weather usually makes people feel HOT, but it can also lead to serious and alarming health problems. Experts say that when nighttime temperatures do not drop much lower than daytime temperatures, there is added stress on the body. It’s important to follow some simple rules to stay healthy during these high temperatures:

1. Drink lots and lots of cool water. You should have water with you at all times. If spending time outdoors, students should plan to drink at least 3 liters of water daily (12 measuring cups).
2. Students must drink at least some fluids with electrolytes, such as juice or even sodas.
3. Wear light-colored, loose clothing that covers your legs and arms. Sometimes, our instinct is to wear clothes that cover less skin when hot, but this is counterintuitive. Clothing can be great protection against dehydration and heatstroke.
4. WEAR A HAT with a brim!
5. Avoid hard outdoor physical work, especially during daylight hours.
6. People at risk for heat stress should stay indoors. This includes small children and babies, obese people, older people, heart disease and high blood pressure, people with asthma.
7. Do not drink alcohol and minimize caffeine! Alcohol and caffeine are dehydrating. Any such drinks should be compensated with additional 2 glasses of water.
8. When indoors, close windows, curtains, and or shades. If the weather is cooler at night, you can air out the indoor spaces at night.

The most common problem linked to hot weather is heat stress. Heat stress occurs when the body’s temperature is no longer low enough to cool the body. It’s important to recognize the signs of heat stress. Some people may experience a heat rash; others heat cramps, dizziness, and fainting. When this happens - stop all activity and move the person indoors too, hopefully, an air-conditioned environment. Increase fluid and rest for several hours.

Heat exhaustion is a serious condition that can develop into heatstroke. Warning signs may include paleness and sweating, rapid heartbeat, muscle cramps, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and/or fainting. Get the person to a cool area and lay them down. Remove the outer layer of clothing and rub down with cool, damp cloths. Increase fluids slowly and rest for several hours at a minimum. Oftentimes, this person will require medical attention.

Heatstroke is a medical emergency and requires urgent medical attention!! The heatstroke symptoms may be the same as heat exhaustion, but the skin may be dry with no sweating, and the person’s mental or neurological condition worsens. Most people will have noticeable changes such as confusion, clumsy walk, slurring words, and collapse. Heatstroke can cause irreparable damage to the body and even death—call 101, or the emergency number in your area, immediately for an ambulance.

We at EMA Care hope you stay cool and comfortable during this heatwave. Drink lots of water, cover-up, and stay safe!

EMA Care provides medical concierge, case management, and patient advocacy services to tourists, students, and Israel residents. EMA Care is currently signing up gap year students for the 2018-9 academic year. Schedule your free consultation today at


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